Cmdr. Peter Hoegel, Deputy Director, Office of Family Policy/Children and Youth
Today’s service members and their families must be extra vigilant in guarding against scams and predatory lending practices. With separation from family and friends, frequent relocations, the stresses of deployment and a steady paycheck, scam artists are often quick to target our community.
As members of the military community, we understand the importance of being mission-ready. It’s worth taking a minute to remember that the financial readiness of service members and families is a key contributor to mission readiness. Especially for deployed service members, knowing that finances are secure and that the families back at home are financially stable gives them peace of mind and allows them to focus on the important tasks at hand.
What is the Military Consumer Campaign?
The Military Consumer Campaign is designed to empower our military community by offering tips and tools to becoming informed consumers. This is the second year the Federal Trade Commission is sponsoring the campaign. As part of DoD’s larger, year-round financial readiness campaign, the Military Consumer Campaign strives to educate the military community to help service members and their families make informed decisions when it comes to financial products and services. In addition, the campaign will shed light on common scams that target the military community.
Who is involved in the Military Consumer Campaign?
The Department of Defense has teamed up with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Service member Affairs, and the Consumer Federation of America. All of us at these organizations are committed to supporting service members and their families through financial education, as well as aggressively addressing scams and fraud directed at the military community. Collectively, these organizations provide considerable knowledge and expertise at no cost to our military community.
Why is the Military Consumer Campaign important?
Educating our military community on financial topics is key to helping service members and their families steer clear of scams. In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 72,900 consumer complaints from our military community with identity theft continuing to top the list with more than 22,000 of those complaints. Other top complaint categories for the military community include debt collection, imposter scams, banks and lenders, credit bureaus, information furnishers and report users; and auto-related complaints. The Military Consumer Campaign is designed to use this information and better educate our community to prevent these types of scams in the future.
When does the campaign kick off?
As a lead up to the Military Consumer Protection Day, the Federal Trade Commission is sponsoring:
- “Hill Fair,” an opportunity for collaborators to provide information to members of Congress and their staff, in the Foyer of the Rayburn Office Building on July 11, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- The official kick-off of the Federal Trade Commission’s Military Consumer Campaign, includes but not limited to, A Twitter “Town Hall” chat that starts at 2 p.m. EDT on July 16, 2014. Follow the Twitter chat with hashtag #MCPD2014.
Other events currently scheduled are:
- Wright-Patterson AFB and their local Federal Trade Commission field office are planning an informational fair on July 16, 2014.
- Navy Federal Credit Union is sponsoring “Shred Days” in Norfolk and New London, and the Federal Trade Commission, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and Better Business Bureau San Antonio are joining with others to host a fair at Joint Base San Antonio on Sept. 23, 2014.
Consumer protection is important year-round, and the department is pleased to support the Military Consumer Campaign as we support the Consumer Federation of America’s Military Saves Campaign. Check with your Personal Financial Management Program for information on local kickoff events, and watch Military Consumer website for ongoing information.
Where can I find more information on the Military Consumer Campaign?
The Military Consumer website offers a whole host of resources for the military community, materials for service providers, and a blog that addresses timely issues as well as tips. Their resources come from more than 30 federal, state and municipal agencies, consumer advocates and military support organizations.
The Know-How page looks at purchases and divides them into topics, including vehicles, banking, saving and investing, and more. A brief look through their auto purchasing section provides users with information on Lemon Laws, car-buying tips and odometer fraud, just to name a few. The Military Consumer website is a valuable tool for all of the military community, offering new tips for some and solid reminders for others.
There is great freedom in living within our means, and financial education is just one of the tools to help you improve your financial picture. Get involved in Military Consumer Protection Day events this year and take advantage of the beneficial resources this campaign has to offer. If there aren’t any events near you, visit the Military Consumer website or your local Personal Financial Management Program for more information.
And remember that Military OneSource financial counselors are available for counseling at no cost year-round by visiting the website or calling 800-342-9647. Take a look, contact us and don’t forget to share the information with other in our military community.